Despite the increasingly widespread use of technology in education, there have been misgivings whether its introduction has done more harm than good. As recently as a couple of decades ago, merging technology with education was a newfound concept. Student rushed to libraries to write papers and essays. They poured over mounds of books to get the required data. Preparing for an exam meant spending a night in the libraries over reference books. But the introduction of technological devices, especially the World Wide Web has made the life of students easier by providing everything a click of a button away. Those reference textbooks are now stored in tablets and material for essays is one Google search away. Despite all the advancement in this field, there are many obstacles students face daily. Some of these problematic issues are:
Not every classroom and school can be updated with latest technologies. It is particularly the case for developing countries. Providing your school with the latest technologies requires ample resources. Introducing the internet to a class of 20 students need a significant amount of bandwidth. Moreover, you will also need an IT professional to deal with all the glitches in the system. Requiring students to do their homework on tablets might also mean that they might not be able to get the help of their parents if the parents are not technology oriented. Schools will also have to hire trained instructors that can manage the system and give practical training to students as well which will increase final expenses considerably.
Using technology as a crutch:
In one way, technology has proved itself to be an obstacle for students. They now rely too much on help and are less willing to exercise their minds. The introduction of calculators in classrooms was questioned as it was an easy solution for students who struggled with math. They are quick to turn Google to find their answers and as a result, critical thinking has gone down the drain. Many students these days do not bother to learn the spellings as everything can be auto-corrected now.
Resistance to change:
Public schools in the US provide at least one computer for every five students. But studies have shown that the teachers are less willing to adapt to new teaching methods. With the influx of new technology, teachers are playing catch up and learning how to incorporate new tools into their curriculum. With the introduction of tablets and laptops in the classroom, training sessions should be specially arranged for the educators if we want to get the maximum output from the teachers as well as students.
Unreliable device/software options:
One of the greatest hurdles that new students are facing is the unreliable software and devices. The excuse ‘dog ate the homework’ has been replaced with ‘my computer crashed’ and might be more valid than the former one. Students have faced massive loss of data and their research work each year just because the hard disk decides to crash at the wrong time. There is also much-unregistered software lurking out on the Internet which makes the system unstable and pose a potential threat to the safety of students and their work.
Where technology has helped students make their job easier, it has also provided them a straightforward source of distractions as well. Despite the strict rules, students admit to using their smart phones during the lessons whenever their attention wanders or vice versa. It’s hard for the teacher to keep an eye of each student to check whether they are using laptops for educational apps or to just log on to some messenger. Many schools have blocked social media websites in schools, but the students have found a way around that as well. Even if the school does manage to block such distractions, they are accessible in their home environments. The homework that is to be done in half an hour now takes almost half as long because of the short attention span of students.
There are some excellent applications available that have a great educational value and applications are particularly useful for teaching a lesson which might prove to be monotonous for students otherwise. But on the other hand, there are tons of free gaming apps available online that have no educational value whatsoever. These games can be quite addicting and take away the productivity value of the classroom environment. Instead, more focus needs to be placed on physical exertion.
Where the Internet has made research easy for students, copy paste trend has also been noted to increase. Students take the Wikipedia word for the law and deem further research unnecessary. Separating the facts from fiction has become an unheard of the job. Studies have shown a decline in critical thinking ability of students. They are more willing to accept whatever data has been presented to them instead of questioning its credibility. Though credit must be given where it is due, students have more creative to dodge the plagiarism checking software.
Different Social Dynamics:
There has been a noted trend of parents’ home schooling their children in recent years. Online schools have been on the rise. Although this is an efficient system, online schooling does not provide the same social benefits as a regular school. Without any teacher to guide and keep an eye on them, they might be inclined to take their lessons less seriously. Also without any social interaction with the peers of the same age, such students do not learn the social cues and are less inclined towards forming new friendships and relationships.
One thing is for sure; all the gadgets in the world will have zero impact on learning until and unless the teachers are professionally trained to help them evolve from conventional teaching practices. They require motivation and incentives to help them transfer to modern teaching methods gradually. Moreover, students are required to be motivated not to use technology and gadgets for shortcuts.